As we continue through what’s already been a season of ups and downs, there have been many curious choices being made on Long Island thus far. One could look at the fact that Cory Conacher started the year on the 1st line, or you could harp on the fact that Jack Skille was waived for the likes of Eric Boulton and Matt Martin to retain roster spots, But none was more glaring then the decision to have Matt Donovan sit for players like Brian Strait and a very raw Griffin Reinhart. Questionable choices such as this one have caused many fans and beat writers wonder what on earth has happened to Matt Donovan.
Now trapped in a perpetual roster limbo, Matt Donovan has yet to see the ice at all this year. He may not get his chance any time soon ether, with Travis Hamonic, Lubomir Visnovsky and also Calvin De Haan having returned to the lineup. Donovan, whom last year was billed as the replacement for Mark Streit, played his best hockey when paired with De Haan last season, and had a decent training camp in the eyes of some. Most fans thought he’d be ahead of rookie Griffin Reinhart and most certainly ahead of Brian Strait. Obviously that didn’t happen as we saw Reinhart paired with Strait for the 1st few games of the year, and after Strait had been mostly ineffective, Donovan still found himself in the pressbox while Strait got paired with a returning Calvin De Haan.
The case of Matt Donovan is a frustrating one for fans. At times he’s been a force on the blue line with his offensive instincts and other times has had some almost laughable mistakes on the ice. One would assume the Islanders could live with some of his growing pains as offensive defensemen often take longer to develop then forwards.
You could also make a very strong case that he is being mishandled by the organization as well. Brock Nelson is a perfect example of this as he found himself a healthy scratch often for the likes of Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Nelson eventually cemented his spot in the lineup with stellar play, and hasn’t looked back. Hopefully Donovan can do the same for himself if and when he is given the chance to do so. He also can’t be sent down to the AHL without passing through waivers and the Islanders will not risk losing a talented young player for no assets in return. So as of now, barring an injury to the defensive corps, Matt Donovan will find himself rotting on the bench. Again lies the question, did he play his way out of Long Island, or is this a case of mishandling a prospect by the Islanders?